“Mommy says I have to learn to swim. Mommy says everyone has to learn, I don’t want to learn how to swim. Swimming sucks.”
“Now Morgan you know mommy just wants what’s best for you” Granpappy said.
“But all the kids make fun of me. They can all swim but the lady put me with the small kids because I don’t know how to swim.”
Granpappy rocks back and forth in his chair. He does this sometimes it’s like he goes off to a whole different world. He always comes back with a new story. I love his stories. They’re so big I can spend hours sitting there listening to him, or what feels like hours anyway. He always tells me stories about our ancestors. Ancestors is a big word I always like to say ancestors when I’m talking to grown ups so they think I’m smart.
“You still their Morgan” granpappy says in his scratchy voice that always reminds me of those orangish brownish candy’s that he has in a bowl on the kitchen table.
“Yeah I’m here Granpappy I’ve been here the whole time silly.” I said as I felt chuckles come out of my mouth.
“Yes of course you have.” He says as he starts to laugh with me. His laugh is lower than mine. His laugh takes over his body. He once told me the story of Bre’er Rabbit who lead a bear into his laughing place. It was really a cave full of bees and Rabbit escaped. I think the bear was a dummy for trusting the rabbit but Granpappy said that some people want to laugh so bad that they’ll do anything it takes. He say’s that’s why we always have to laugh even when we’re sad because otherwise one day we might just stop laughing at all and I always want to hear Granpappy’s .
I hope Granpappy never stops laughing because he has the best laugh in the whole universe. His laugh is deeper than Mommy’s and it’s louder than mine. His laugh is perfect it rings around the room like a bell and covers me like a hug.
“Ding Dong” The doorbell rang through the house.
“That would be your mother now go open the door for her” Granpappy say’s as he rocks back and forth in his chair sending out little squeaks all throughout the apartment.
“But I don’t want to” I whine and pop out my lower lip in a pout.
“Morgan” Granpappy say’s in a stern voice. Reluctantly I stood up and walked out of the room and into a long hallway where the hallway floor slanted upwards to the right. The floor the hallway was a brown like the mud in the ground around the trees on the side walk. There’s also a pattern like the ones on the rug in the rug store that mommy always likes to look at but never buys. I walked past the tiny kitchen that he likes to cook in. The kitchen has a tiny sink and stove apart from each other against the far wall. The’re separated by a tiny space to stand in between. Theres a small table in the left corner closest to the hall way. Thats the table that we play scrabble at. He always beats me but he say’s I have a big vocabulary for someone my age. I like big words because they sound so good when Granpappy say’s them. One day i want to talk like Granpappy.
As I unlock the door and tug on the door, cause it always gets stuck, I finally get it open and standing their is Mommy. Mommy is very beautiful. She has straight black hair. I want hair like Mommy but she say’s I have to wait until I’m thirteen but that’s five whole years away.
“Honey I don’t have much time we have to get to the pool for your swimming lesson.” As she talks I see her teeth. They used to be a brilliant white but then she stopped using white strips cause they got too expensive. Now her teeth have faded into a whitish yellow.
“Can Granpappy come to” I whined.
“Granpappy has to take a nap sweet heart” We heard him groan from the big room.
“Come on sweetie we have to get to the subway” Mommy wheezed out. Mommy’s always tired she used to cover the bag’s under her eyes with make up that daddy bought but then daddy went away and Mommy started to work more jobs and sleep less and not whiten her teeth and not use makeup. I still think mommy looks beautiful though.
She grabbed my hand and lead me down the three flights of stairs. As she opened the door and led us out of the apartment building I was hit suddenly with the smell of the city. I’ve tried a lot but I can never figure out what it is. Whenever I ask Granpappy or Mommy they always just say it smells like city. Granpappy tells me stories of the country. He say’s the country is where his Grand Parents used to live. I imagine that the country is a beautiful place where it smells great and their are beautiful horses with beautiful hair. Mommy says we can’t get a horse because we live in the city.
The stairs down to the subway are dirty and cold. Mommy holds my hand tight so that I don’t get lost in a crowd. As we get closer to the trains I hear a big thundering sound like lightning. I know that’s the sound of the train. Mommy doesn’t talk much when we’re out. Mommy doesn’t really talk much at all. Thats ok though because I talk enough for the both of us.
The train is loud and mommy sits me down on her lap. The ride is bumpy but I want it to last forever. I love the subway. I spend the whole time watching the people on the subway. The are so many people on the subway. Theres people who are dark chocolate like mommy and Granpappy. There are people who have skin so white I want to draw pretty pictures. Some people have pretty pictures on there skin. Mommy say’s that’s bad for you though. Their are people with milk coffee skin and frizzy hair like me. Mommy tugs on my hand and drags through the crowd of people. We walk up the stairs and I no longer see anyone like me. They all have paper skin with sharply cut suits and they don’t move out of the way for anyone. The air outside is cleaner. I look up and see big buildings even bigger than the building that me and Mommy lived in. I hated having to go to a school to swim. It was even my school. It was the school of the daughter of the women mommy cleaned for. We have to walk through their playground to get to the back of the school were the swimming pool. Their playground is so much better than our’s. All the climbing stuff is all shiny and the ground is wood chips not mud.
“Behave” Mommy says tiredly as she opens the door into the pool. The heat and the smell hits me immediately. I walk in and no one looks like me. The’re all laughing and swimming. Mommy sits me down on one of the long chairs hand me my pool bag and looks me in the eye.
“Honey I know you don’t want to but if you learn to swim than we never have do this again. Ok” she asked almost pleadingly. I want to whine and ask her why she looked so tired and I decided I could do this.
“It’s ok mommy” I said quietly.
“I’ll be back in an hour please behave”
She’s walks out of the room like a ghost. No one noticed she arrived and no one noticed that she left. I sat at the side of the pool with my feet in the water until the girl in the red swim suit yelled over the intercom that it was time for the baby dolphins to get into the water. I slowly lowered myself into the pool and grasped on to the ledge. The other little paper kids jumped into the water and immediately started splashing each other with water. The life guard jumped in and started to speak. I couldn’t hear what she said but soon all the kids were swimming to the other side. I tried to convince myself to swim to the other side but something in me wouldn’t let me. I suddenly felt like everyone was watching me. The kids started laughing at the other end of the pool. Something clicked inside of me and I wanted to prove those kids wrong. I no longer was afraid or scared I was angry. I detached myself from the wall and focused on pushing myself through the water. I dont think I breathed the entire time. As I got to the end and pulled my head out of the water I realized everyone had already left. I realized that no one really cared. I was happy though. I pulled myself out of the water and walked to the chair. I toweled off sat down and waited for mommy so that we could go back to grandpappy's house and he could tell me a story.